Players familiar with Zato from later games may be expecting a puppet character. However, that is not the case in Missing Link. Here, Zato and his shadow cannot move independently as he can later in the series. Instead, he functions as a zoning character, with a variety of strong pokes and projectiles to both wall the opponent out and harass them from far away. He also boasts solid buttons all around, many of which having the speed and range to turn nearly any stray poke into a Charge Cancel infinite.
|Zato zones the opponent with large normals, varied projectiles, and anti-zoning tools.|
A relatively slow 5P with decent range. Although it's more advantageous on block than on hit, the frame advantage on hit is fairly unimportant due to gatlings.
A fairly large footsies button which is + on block. Despite the animation it is not a low, but it is still useful for tic throws.
c.S is used as filler for CC infinites, but is otherwise unremarkable. The frame data isn't particularly outstanding, nor is the hitbox interesting, so it's just something to stuff combos with at close range.
This move has great range and a decent disjoint, but it's horribly unsafe. If you use this, be prepared to cancel into another normal, or into Charge.
5H is Zato's fastest normal, and has enough hitstun to structure into a CC infinite. It comes with some notable issues.
- The Hitbox to Hurtbox ratio is very poor.
- Whiffs on most crouching opponents.
- Lengthy recovery and poor frame advantage uncanceled.
6P in missing link is significantly advantageous on block, but lacks the upper body invulnerability that it has in later games. The frame data is actually good, making this a solid button to press in pressure.
Zato's classic overhead, except it's painfully slow in this game. You're more likely to be hit out of it than to ever land it. Bizarrely, it can be special canceled at any point in the move's duration, which would be cool if he had any low hitting specials but unfortunately he doesn't in Missing Link.
For some baffling reason, the command list gets the input for this move wrong. It says "Press forwards when holding K" but that doesn't even work. Instead of doing [K]6, like the command list implies, you just do a normal 6K input.
Unlike in later games, 2P is a low. It has the same bizarre on-block and on-hit properties as 5P, but a bit worse.
Zato's classic sweep, except because of how teching works in this game, you won't knock them down and will potentially be minus on hit if your opponent's on the ball. Goes pretty far, like 5K, but is also jointed.
A large, fairly low commitment poke which can combo into 5H to start a CC infinite, even at maximum range.
Big vertical hitbox. Not very much disjoint, so it isn't amazing as an anti-air.
j.P is really slow for an air jab, but it only has 1 frame of recovery.
j.K has the same startup as j.P, but with way more recovery. Generally, it's worse than j.S as a jump-in and j.H as an air-to-air due to its pretty bad frame data.
Giant landing normal with a tiny bit of invuln on startup. Useful for hitting opponents below you. Has a big hurtbox accompanying it so it is whiff punishable and can lose trades to disjoints. Will sometimes win trades against disjointed moves thanks to the startup invincibility.
Giant dedicated air to air normal. The hitbox is big but so is the hurtbox, so be careful with it. Very active, meaning you can throw it out pre-emptively to an extent.
Fast overhead that whiffs on over half the cast crouching. Useful in the few matchups you can use it in for mixups, little use otherwise.
4H or 6H
It's a grab, and has the usual properties of one. Zato's throw is decently plus on hit, even if they tech. If they do tech they are left very high in the air for you to catch their landing.
- Sideswitches on hit
- Sends the opponent flying very far horizontally as well as vertically
Pretty standard dash attack. Moderate hitbox, and pretty plus on block.
Fear of the Dark
P+K > 236X
|FATAL||All||6||6||10||N/A||N/A||Above Knees 1~11, 15~40|
Weak instant kill. Crouched by everyone but Potemkin and Justice while still being smaller and slower than some other instant kills. You won't be seeing this one as often as other characters' instant kills.
214K or 214P
Drunkard Shade is pretty cool. First of all, the move is invulnerable above the knees and has a tall hitbox that extends up from the ground.
The K version will immediately reflect any projectile which contacts it.
The P version will instead absorb the last projectile to contact it. After a couple seconds, that projectile will then automatically fire out of Zato's face, even if he is in hitstun.
Drunkard Shade does not work on the following projectiles:
|Climb Darkness Followup||15||Overhead||2||17||2||N/A||N/A||none|
Climb Darkness sends Zato's shadow forwards to the edge of the screen, then calls it back to him. During this time, Zato's only valid actions are the followups to Climb Darkness.
The followups to climb darkness are all the same, but are input with distinct buttons. They are done by pressing H, S, and P in that order. You can use the 3 followup hits at any time that the shadow is away from Zato so long as the order is respected.
Once the first followup is used, the shadow will begin its return to Zato regardless of whether or not it reached the edge of the screen.
- Air Unblockable
- The earliest valid followup input is on the 10th frame of climb darkness, right after the shadow becomes visible on the animation.
- There must be at least 1 frame without an input between the end of one Climb Darkness Followup and the start input of the next.
- After the shadow returns to Zato the recovery of the move is 3 frames.
22S or 22H
|Invite Hell Level 2||All||17||15||-15||-27||none|
|Invite Hell Level 3||All||17||15||-1||-41||none|
Invite Hell locks Zato in place and produces a drill a set distance away. The S button places the drill near Zato, and the H version places the drill far away.
The drill hits once when coming out of the ground, once when erect, and once more when retracting into the ground. It has enough vertical range to reach the apex of Potemkin's jump arch, which means that some characters will be forced to superjump or double jump to get around it. Invite Hell is a bit awkward as a zoning tool since Zato is immobile for the entire duration, so it is matchup dependent how you use it.
At Level 2, the drill gains massive hitboxes on its sides which make it considerably harder to contest, avoid, and deal with in general. The hitbox also goes under the bottom of the stage, for some reason.
At Level 3, the move spawns three drills and occupies virtually the entire floor, making it borderline uncontestable.
Aerial Invite Hell
j.22S or j.22H
|Aerial Invite Hell||9x2,1||All||1||9,59,18||Until Landing+29||+16||-38||none|
|Aerial Invite Hell Level 2||9x2,1||All||1||9,59,18||Until Landing+29||+16||-38||none|
|Aerial Invite Hell Level 3||9x2,1||All||1||9,59,18||Until Landing+29||+16||-50||none|
Aerial Invite hell is similar to the ground version, but with some interesting tweaks. It spawns a drill on the ground a short distance in front of Zato's position when the move is first input. The S button places the drill near Zato, and the H version places the drill far away.
Zato's momentum is preserved which can let you move away from or towards your drill by using backwards or forwards jumps. Because this move is in recovery until landing + 29 frames you want to use it as soon as possible before hitting the ground. this will give you the most actionable time before the drill disappears.
Level 2 is identical to level 1 in all known ways.
Level 3 Aerial Invite Hell spawns 3 level 1 drills, which makes it cover considerably less space than the ground version.
Rise and Fall
|9,12||All,Overhead||6||7(25)28||29||-60||-58||Full 1~12, 34~37|
Invincible on startup DP with a decent hitbox and damage. It has a huge amount of recovery, making it very unsafe on block.
Initially looks like a useful reversal and combo ender, especially considering Zato's status as a zoner, but it has a major flaw. It's fully punishable ON HIT. By teching the second hit of the move, the opponent lands next to Zato fully recovered while he's still going through the move's long recovery. This leaves it fully open to a punish with anything you want, be it an IK or an infinite. This unfortunately renders the move mostly useless.
Break the Law
|N/A||N/A||30||N/A||15||N/A||N/A||Strike 5~30; Full Until Exiting BTL; Strike 1~11 of Recovery|
Zato schlorps into the ground making him completely invulnerable. While underground Zato's only valid actions are to move left and right at incredible speeds. Coming out of the ground has a brief animation before Zato becomes actionable.
- Startup represents the time it takes to enter the ground from first input. Recovery represents time that it takes to come out of the ground.
- Zato has 4 frames of vulnerability on either side of the animation. 4 Frames at the start when he goes into the ground, and 4 frames at the end after he comes out of the ground.
- Pressing S will cause Zato to come out of the ground early.
- Pressing P will fake coming out by playing the first 11 frames of the animation.
|63||All||39||Until Reaches Enemy/Wall||75||-65||-65||none|
An advancing attack with a single hit of huge damage. The startup isn't great and the recovery is incredibly long. As a result this is isn't particularly useful because why try to combo into a weird slow unsafe super when you could go infinite with Charge Cancel.